Rob Delaney does Seville: “Spanish people are very comfortable in their own bodies”

The Catastrophe comic and Richard Ayoade spent 48 hours in Andalusia's sunniest city - and developed a taste for jamón

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Like his beleaguered alter ego in the sitcom Catastrophe, Rob Delaney is the father of young children. So whereas he used to seek out culture or the great outdoors – short breaks in Krakov and Paris, hiking and camping in American national parks – holidays are less ambitious these days. “Now that I have three kids under five, it has to be a place where there’s constant entertainment or containment possible at all times,” he jokes. “So a resort or a prison.”

Delaney is the latest comic to accompany Richard Ayoade to a top tourist destination for Travel Man. The Channel 4 show is a ruthless, very funny, box-ticking exercise in which Ayoade attempts to “do” a city in 48 hours. How did it compare with travelling with the family? “Really, at least 500 times easier. Plus I don’t think I had to change his nappy even once.”

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Richard Ayoade and Rob Delaney do their best cowboy pout in Fort Bravo

Delaney had been to Barcelona and Majorca, but it was his first time in Spain’s sunniest city, Seville – and lust at first sight. “Beautiful, incredible food, wonderful buildings. A+, out of the gate.” Their whirlwind trip included the world’s third largest cathedral, the ornate pavilion of the Plaza de España (which had a cameo in Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones) and the surreal Metropol Parasol in the old quarter – six giant wooden parasols known locally as las setas, the mushrooms.

They left one important box unchecked, though: the Alcazar, a dazzling example of Moorish architecture dating back to the tenth century. Instead, Delaney and Ayoade toured Seville’s many tapas bars. The biggest hit was the jamón: the wafer-thin, melt-in-the-mouth ham that Sevillians enjoy by the plateful.

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The Alcazar in Seville

Seville is a great starting point from which to explore Andalusia. Granada and Malaga are a scenic drive along the coast or through the sun-baked Sierra Nevada dotted with whitewashed Moorish towns. If the built-up Costa del Sol doesn’t appeal, head for the Atlantic-swept coves of the Costa de Luz. Delaney and Ayoade didn’t have time for sunbathing, but did squeeze in an excursion to Fort Bravo, a Western-style theme park in Almería where grown-ups can pretend to be cowboys.

So after 48 hours of jamón, how Spanish did Delaney feel? “It’s impossible for an American or Brit. We’re too embarrassed by our genitals even when we’re clothed. Spanish people are very comfortable in their own bodies. They just walk around being Spanish and at peace with their general sexiness and insouciance. It’s awful.” 

Travel Man returns on Friday 25th March on Channel 4 at 8.30pm. For details of Rob Delaney’s critically acclaimed stand-up tour, Meat, which includes a date at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 12th May, visit robdelaney.com


 Radio Times Travel offer: 7-day tour of Seville, Cordoba and Granada from £539pp


CYCLE LIKE A SEVILLIAN

Delaney and Ayoade opted for a running sightseeing tour – an excellent way of saving time but less pleasant in summer when it’s 40°. Cruise around like a local on a city bike instead. You can buy an excellent-value weekly pass and pick up a bike from any of the 250 docking stations. 

EAT LIKE A SEVILLIAN

Reset your body clock. Lunch is a no-no before 2pm and don’t even think about dinner before 9pm. It’s all about tapas or – if you’d rather share – media raciónes (half plates) or raciónes (full plates). Don’t rush. Pair each plate with a drink and move on to the next tapas bar when you’ve finished. But before you do, remember to ask for the bill: unlike in Grenada and Madrid, Sevillians pay for their tapas. 

DRINK LIKE A SEVILLIAN

Andalusia is sherry country. Unlike Brits, Spaniards prefer the bone-dry, crystal-clear Fino. Driest and palest of all is Manzanilla – order it with a plate of salty fried almonds or jamón ibérico. If you can’t cultivate a taste for fortified vino, stick to the delicious (and deliciously cheap) local wines or lager, Cruzcampo. The best thing about the latter is that Sevillians like to serve it ice-cold and in half-pint glasses (cañas or pequeñas) so it doesn’t turn to soup before you’ve knocked it back. 

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DANCE LIKE A SEVILLIAN

Take heed from Delaney and Ayoade’s flailing efforts at flamenco. It’s in the blood of Sevillians and the rest of us would do better simply to enjoy the show. The most authentic are at Casa de la Memoria at 6 Calle Cuna, Museo del Baile Flamenco at 3 Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos, and Los Gallo at 11 Plaza Santa Cruz. Keep your ears open for older Sevillians singing spine-tingling refrains as they go about their daily business.


Radio Times Travel offer

Classical Spain: 7-night tour of Seville, Cordoba and Granada from £539pp

Andalusia is simply one of the most beautiful corners of Europe and is, as yet, undiscovered by the majority. It’s a land where the excesses of the twentieth century seem not to have taken root and where travellers are genuinely welcomed. A land immortalised by the writings of Ernest Hemingway and beloved by Orson Welles, where stunningly beautiful, sun-kissed countryside, covered by green olive groves stretch off into the distance under a perpetual azure blue sky. With biscuit coloured plains, untamed rivers, deep gorges and the spectacular snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, providing the backdrop, there can be few places on earth which can boast such a wealth of natural wonders in such a small area. Click here to read more and book.